12:00 AM, August 11, 2014 / LAST MODIFIED: 01:53 AM, March 08, 2015

America back in Iraq

America back in Iraq

Editorial: <i>The Statesman</i> (India)

BARACK Obama has stunned and confused America and the world. Three years after the withdrawal of troops from Iraq, America has sent aircraft to bomb fighters of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS) in a desperate attempt to stop their advance on the Kurdish capital, Arbil. Ostensibly, the president is anxious to forestall what he imagines could be a “genocide” by protecting the minority Christians and the Yazidis of northern Iraq, a segment that practises a different variant of Islam; no less crucially, he is intent on protecting America's economic interests in Kurdistan, chiefly the Iraqi oil hub. In terms of geopolitical strategy, Mr. Obama has effected a reversal of what they call the 'dumb war' platform that had propelled him to the presidency in November 2008 and yet again four years later. Effectively, he is the fourth president to join the league of George Bush (senior), Bill Clinton, and Mr. Bush (junior) to order military action in Iraq. From Libya to Iraq, he has not been able to restrain himself from intervening in conflicts overseas, pre-eminently towards the latter. The strategy is both the same and different; this time around, Mr. Obama has given himself a limited mandate -- “relief drops” of food and water and “targeted” air strikes... short of mobilising “boots on the ground.” Yet the grim determination to bring the ISIS to its knees has been matched with the inaugural air offensive that coincides with his signal of intent to intervene in the conflict within Iraq. ISIS is said to be inching towards Baghdad, has put in place a Caliphate in large parts of northern Iraq, and has taken over a vast swathe of Syria. In a sense, Mr. Obama has worked on a readymade recipe for intervention.

More than eleven years after the search for the WMD that wasn't, Obama's America and David Cameron's Britain have conveyed the impression that they are partners in the latest (mis)adventure; while the USA has launched the air strikes against ISIS militants the UK has refused to rule out military support, offering technical assistance for now. Though the US president has pledged not “to be dragged into fighting another war in Iraq,” the comity of nations shall not miss the timing of the air offensive. Specifically, when the militants have reached within striking distance of Arbil, home to American diplomats, military advisers, and officials of US oil giants. “In this case, I believe the United States cannot turn a blind eye,” was Mr. Obama's raison d'etre on Friday. The underpinning is intensely to protect the interests of America; it would be grossly presumptuous to articulate fears of what he calls “a potential act of genocide.” The fear psychosis over WMDs didn't work. Nor may the “genocide” ruse.

© The Statesman. All rights reserved. Reprinted by arrangement with Asia News Network.


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